Clean Tech Corner: the power of storage
As New England continues to move toward a greater use of renewable energy, we are concurrently witnessing growing interest and deployment of small to large-scale power storage systems. This growth brings up many questions concerning what technology options are available; what developments are occurring elsewhere; how New Hampshire should establish our policies; and what this does for regional power concerns. Let’s take a look and clarify some of these items.
Significant advancement in power storage technology and related policies has continued to develop over the last decade. This progress attempts to address the need to efficiently store energy to help with concerns regarding our electrical grid’s stability and availability during moments of peak demand. The question remains: What direction should we go in?
Arguably, the most common storage technologies are lead batteries, lithium-ion batteries (including electric vehicles), flywheels, compressed air, hydrogen, large hydropower storage and thermal storage. All have their benefits and drawbacks, but more importantly, there are many options available to provide a solution to any scenario.
An expected challenge, as with any technology, is the potential price point for the market. We have recently witnessed, however, several large-scale efforts to help lower the price point for certain forms of storage.
On the market side, we have seen major investment into an extremely large facility in the battery production sector, known as Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada. Tesla, with a roughly $5 billion investment in the factory, along with several states pushing aggressive policy measures, is attempting to lower equipment costs while demonstrating project capabilities and showcasing the grid of the future.
In addition, two California utilities are planning to bring 104.5 megawatts of energy storage capacity online by next year in an attempt to reach a stated goal of 1.3 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2020. These large efforts will have a transformational market impact that will extend across the country.
Closer to home, our neighbor to the west is taking significant steps to deploy battery storage for financial and stability reasons.